SNP urges council to commit £4.5m more for King’s Theatre revamp
The SNP has called for millions of extra pounds to be committed to help secure the future of the historic King's Theatre in Edinburgh.
The party’s councillors are arguing for the local authority to bridge more than half of an £8.9 million funding gap delaying a long-awaited refurbishment.
A pledge to borrow £4.5m for the project will be part of the SNP’s budget proposals later this month.
The move is expected to increase pressure on the Scottish and UK governments to provide emergency funding for the King’s after its operators pleaded for help.
The SNP was previously part of a coalition with Labour in Edinburgh. Parliamentarians from both parties have backed a new campaign to save the King’s.
Conservative MSP Sue Webber has also urged Scottish secretary Alister Jack to intervene after a failed bid to secure “Levelling Up” funding for the project.
Capital Theatres warned last month that the venue is in the "last chance saloon" due to an £8.9m funding gap for a revamp now expected to cost more than £35m.
The Tollross venue has been closed since August ahead of a planned start of work. Capital Theatres, which runs the King’s on behalf of the council insists it will “hand the keys back” if the additional funding cannot be found. It has previously raised £26.7m, including £6.5m from the Scottish Government, £4m from the city council and £3.6m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
It is hoped that a new commitment from the council will "unlock" further funding from the UK and Scottish governments, and private donors.
Amy McNeese-Mechan, the SNP’s culture spokeswoman on the council, said: “We simply can’t allow this Edinburgh institution to collapse. The redevelopment is much overdue and essential.”
Finance spokeswoman Lesley Macinnes said: “We’ve worked hard to make sure we have a costed and affordable plan for this. We’ve worked this into our budget proposals and we’re calling on all other parties to do the same.”
Cammy Day, leader of the Labour-run council, administration, said: “We’re looking to find funding which we hope will be supported by the Scottish and UK governments to ensure the future of the much-loved King’s.”
Capital theatres chief executive Fiona Gibson said: “Huge numbers of people have written to their MPs, MSPs and councillors, as well as sharing their memories of this beloved theatre, and making donations. We’re so grateful for this show of support.
“We remain in constructive conversations with the council, and the Scottish and UK governments about closing the funding gap within the timescale needed to make the redevelopment viable."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The government values the importance of the redevelopment of the King’s Theatre and recognises its future potential not only as an economic asset for Edinburgh, but as a theatre to support the arts, provide employment and to further engage with communities to allow everyone to experience theatre.
“The current difficult context for capital projects means that many are seeing significant cost increases due to inflationary pressures and other international factors.
“The flat and falling capital grant allocation Scotland has received from UK Government, coupled with the current impact of high inflation, also places significant additional pressure on the existing capital programme.
"We continue to work with Capital Theatres and the council on the way forward for the King’s.”